Curious George turned 75 last month. It was in the fall of 1941 that the first Curious George book was published by H.A. (Hans) and Margret Rey. There were seven books in the “Original Adventures” series published between 1941 and 1966, and the number of these seven books sold has since then topped 30 million copies. The books are so popular that they have never been out of print. Other books that feature Curious George have also been published and those, too, have sold over millions of copies. Add to that a beloved full length movie and an ever popular Curious George show on PBS KIDS and you can see why people are excited to be celebrating the birthday of this beloved monkey. Did you enjoy reading Curious George books as a kid? Do or did you read them to your children or grandchildren? Having a now three year old grand child I am enjoying seeing a third generation within my own family enjoying the instant appeal of these books. Young children, like George, cannot help but be curious. They are constantly exploring, questioning, wondering, and wanting to know why the sky is blue, and and why tomatoes are red, and why leaves fall off trees, and why water freezes in winter, and why birds can fly, and why, why, why……
PBS KIDS has broadcast an animated television series based on the Curious George children’s book series since 2006. PBS’s interest in the show from the start was not simply to entertain children, but to educate them about the value of being curious and inquisitive. Curiosity is the natural first step of the desire to learn more and is a crucial factor in gaining a deeper understanding of how things work in the world and for exploring new ways of solving problems.
This makes curiosity as important an attribute for adults as it is for children. Somewhere along the line though, as we get older, we adults sometimes lose the natural curiosity we had as children. When I work with an individual, couple, or family who is “stuck” in some way, I almost always find that they have lost their ability to be curious about their life together. When this is the case, I find that I am almost always able to help them get “unstuck” by simply being curious. We wonder together why they are stuck. We dig deep tougher and continue to wonder why. To gain a deeper understanding of what is going on we work together to ask “why?” and to explore new ways of solving a problem. That’s right, we just follow the lead of Curious George and any young child by continuously asking why, and always exploring new ways of doing things.
It's worth noting here that word curious comes from the same root as the words cure and care. To be curious is to care enough to get to know others for who they really are, rather than simply assuming we already know who they are, or what they mean by a certain action or statement. Think for a moment how wonderfully caring it feels when others are curious enough to take the time to really get to know you and who you really are. That simple curiosity on their part is a way of caring.
So the next time you are feeling stuck, try taking a step back and being curious about both how you got stuck and about new and creative ways you might try to get unstuck. In doing so you will be honoring Curious George’s 75th anniversary while you are also reconnecting with the natural, child-like curiosity that lives within each and every one of us.